Although there is currently no cure for ataxia, there are a number of treatments available to help with the symptoms people experience. Medications are available, for example; for muscle spasms, tremors, bladder problems, abnormal eye movements and depression. Cardiac problems seen in Friedreich’s ataxia are also treatable. Information on diagnosis and management of ataxias can be found in the Ataxia Guidelines. This document was produced by Ataxia UK in collaboration with many ataxia specialists and is aimed at healthcare professionals (eg: neurologists, therapists and other doctors). Please download a copy to take to your doctors or contact the Ataxia UK Helpline for a printed copy. We also produced a summary of the Guidelines especially for GPs.

We recommend that people with progressive ataxia be seen regularly by a neurologist (at least annually) who can monitor the condition and provide help with any new problems that may have emerged. It also provides an opportunity to benefit from any new medical advances. Ataxia UK supports the opening of Specialist Ataxia Centres around the UK. Based within the Centres are specialist neurologists and nurses who have expertise in ataxia investigation and symptom control. See Ataxia Centres to find out about your nearest Centre.

Physiotherapy and exercise such as swimming may prevent loss of strength and preserve mobility. A speech and language therapist can help with problems involving swallowing and if speech is becoming slurred. If needed, communication aids, such as some computer programmes can be recommended. An occupational therapist can also be helpful, for example with home adaptations, teaching strategies for daily activities or wheelchair assessments.

Many people with ataxia say it really helps them to meet other people with the condition and realise they are not alone in what they’re going through. Ataxia UK’s network of local branches and support groups helps by running events, trips, fun activities, and by providing the opportunity to meet up and socialise. Others keep in touch with one another through our online health community forum (Health Unlocked) or virtual support group.

At Ataxia UK, we are always looking for ways that we can campaign to help improve the healthcare and treatment of people with ataxia. For more information on our policy and campaigning work, click here.

We often get asked about our position on stem cell therapy. You can read our statement by clicking here.